As a premise, Keatinge sets up a world where superheroes started appearing twenty years ago, and now depicts a setting where the world has adapted to their comings and goings. The focus on a seemingly unremarkable Ben Day starts the story strong, but meanders a bit as we start to see parallel Bens popping up. There are a lot of comparisons that could be drawn to Jet Li’s movie, The One, but out of respect for Keatinge, I won’t go there. Still, as much as any book dealing with alternate versions of the same character can be confusing, it’s balanced in Hell Yeah by some pretty classic superhero action. I enjoyed the integration of heroes into modern-day life, but felt that it could go even further. Perhaps the story might continue to reflect that, as the end of this first volume implies that we might finally be getting to the core of the story soon.
Without divulging any spoilers, I’d really like to give Hell Yeah props for being an excellent superhero story. It’s science fiction, action, and intrigue depicted with tight latex costumes, bulging muscles, and graphic deaths, but in my opinion, suffers from trying to be cool a little too often. I prefer when the writer trusts his readers to enjoy the story for what it is without needing the characters to be something before they transform into something else. Sound confusing? Good, we’re on the same page now, because I found the book difficult to jump into. Hell Yeah requires more than one read to appreciate, so when you see it sitting on the shelf at your local comic shop, don’t try and skim through it; you won’t enjoy the book without giving yourself some time to chew it over in your head before reading it through again.
The confusion aside, I did enjoy the book, and it does make you crave more, so it wins in that regard, but sadly, I don’t identify or sympathize with the main character of Ben. I don’t know why we’re following him, especially as Keatinge once again does such an amazing job of making the supporting cast so visceral, but I’ve been misled before. If Keatinge is playing this one close to the chest, I may have just read an incredible build up to something better than I ever imagined.